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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (film)

David Yates directs Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe once again as the Harry Potter movie series reaches its epic conclusion. Harry, Ron, and Hermione track down the remaining Horcruxes and Harry and Voldemort face each other for the final time. And it’s all in mediocre 3D!

This movie marks the end of an era. You realize that you were spoiled by having eight awesome movies based on seven amazing books coming out over ten astounding years. You saw the kids grow up on screen, like British Olson Twins, but their careers didn’t end when they turned eighteen. With the 19 Years later epilogue at the end, you get to see them age into middle-aged adults. It’s cool to see how much those little tykes have grown.

Almost everything in the movie happens during one long day. Everything from the Gringott’s raid to Harry breaking and throwing away the Elder Wand happens pretty much within a 24 hour period. Harry’s day is way crazier than anything Jack Bauer ever had to deal with.

Harry’s quest to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes takes him back to Hogwarts. The Order of the Phoenix and Harry’s supporters all show up to take on Voldemort and the Death Eaters in one of the biggest and best battles in cinematic history. There are spells and creatures and death and destruction all jumping out of the screen and smacking you in the face. It wasn’t the best 3D movie, but it wasn’t the worst either.

Alan Rickman finally gets more than a few lines. Snape is the best character in the books, and Deathly Hallows is kind of his coming out party. His secret past is revealed at last. Harry exploring Snape’s memories in the Pensieve is one of the highlights of the film. It is brief but thorough.

I was a little nervous that Neville wouldn’t get to kill Nagini. In the book, Harry finds Neville and tells him to kill the snake. In the movie, Harry tells Ron and Hermione to kill the snake. Nagini was about to attack Ron and Hermione, but than Neville comes out of nowhere to decapitate the snake and relieve my fears. Neville is my favorite character. If he didn’t complete his story arc I would have written David Yates a strongly worded letter voicing my displeasure.

The movie was a pretty faithful adaptation for the most part. There are a few nitpicky things that would have improved the movie. They should have included Dumbledore’s backstory and not just hint at it. And Harry should have used the Elder Wand to fix his broken wand before he gets rid of it. Both the book and the movie screwed over Lupin and Tonks by killing them off-screen. I was hoping the movie would show how they bit the dust.

This is the only Potter movie to make over a billion dollars at the box office. Part 1 and 2 were made for $250 million, and took in $2,284,510,930 combined. That’s a spicy meatball. Take that Twilight.

I was sad when the movie ended. Harry Potter is over. No more books. No more movies. No more reason to live in this cruel world.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

The final book of the Harry Potter series was split up into two movies released six months apart. David Yates, the director of the fifth and sixth movies, comes back to finish up the epic saga. Splitting up the movie into two parts was a great idea. The book is rich and dense with material, and the previous movies left so much out, there was no conceivable way to make a two-and-a-half hour movie that would wrap everything up in a satisfactory way. The two parts of Deathly Hallows are the most loyal to the book since Chamber of Secrets. It makes the film much more enjoyable if you’ve read the books.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson all do a great job again. The last few movies would have been terrible if they had to recast. This Potter flick didn’t have any 3D. There were only a few scenes that would have benefitted from looking extra dimensiony, so it doesn’t really affect anything. The special effects were amazing, one of the highlights being the scene with the decoy Harrys.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide that destroying Voldemort’s Horcruxes is cooler than going back to school. The three of them embark on a mission to identify and track down the mysterious objects that house fragments of Voldemort’s soul.

Voldemort has taken over the Ministry of Magic. Harry has become a fugitive along with his two best friends. Ron gets all moody and bitchy and storms out on Harry and Hermione. They celebrate by dancing awkwardly. Eventually Ron comes back (what a relief) and the three of them continue on their quest.

Hermione reads aloud the story of the Deathly Hallows, and they jump to an animated sequence of the Peverell brothers and how they cheated death. It is reminiscent of the Japanimated O-Ren Ishii sequence in Kill Bill Vol. 1. It’s unexpected and an interesting moment that was unlike anything else previously seen in the Potter movies.

It’s a great adaptation of the book. With the extended running time, there is no reason to rush or cut out important parts from the novel. It’s a bit disheartening when they show so many vital parts from the book, but don’t delve into Dumbledore’s backstory. That was a huge part of the book because it makes you question Dumbledore’s integrity. The film lags and drags for a bit when Harry and friends are hiding out in the wilderness, but the book was like that too. The escape from Malfoy Manor and Voldy getting the Elder Wand is a great way to end the film with a nice cliffhanger. It’s a good way to wrap up the movie and leaves you gearing up for the final chapter.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)

David Yates steps in to direct, and he brings back the energy and joy of Prisoner of Azkaban. The fifth book was the longest, but the fifth movie was one of the shortest. Yates keeps the movie flowing and it is more energetic and fun than Goblet of Fire. Lots of things are left out of the movie, but they are alluded to. It captures the feel and tone of the fifth book, even though so much is left out. Even if you haven’t seen the other movies or read the books, this film is solid enough to stand alone.

This movie came out in July of 2007, the same month as the final book. It was a very good month for Potter fans. Not only did it also come out in IMAX, but the final twenty minutes were converted into 3D. Keep in mind that this was way before Avatar, and the whole movie was in 2D, but then when Harry and his friends jump on the Thestrals to save Sirius it becomes 3D. There were some great 3D moments as they explore the Department of Mysteries and get attacked by the Death Eaters, but nothing compares to Voldemort and Dumbledore’s fierce dual. Seriously some of the best use of 3D in film. It really added to the film, and because it was only 3D at the end, the 3D seemed more impressive. The dual is an amazing spectacle. Computer graphics can still make jaws drop if done correctly.

As per the trend, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson continue to grow up and improve as actors. Gary Oldman has only a few scenes as Sirius, but establishes a real connection between Harry and Sirius. Keep in mind that Sirius only had one scene in Goblet of Fire, so it was vital for the audience to relate to Sirius so that when he dies you feel sorry for Harry. There is a great moment in the midst of the Ministry battle where Sirius calls Harry “James” by accident. It is a really brief but subtle allusion to Harry seeing Sirius as a father, but Sirius sees Harry as his friend. It sums up their relationship perfectly.

Two great female villains are introduced in this movie. Helena Bonham Carter portrays Bellatrix Lestrange, and makes her very deranged and psychotic. You can tell she went to the Alan Rickman School of Hamming It Up and graduated at the top of her class. Imelda Staunton steals the show with her portrayal of the loathsome and evil Dolores Umbridge. If you didn’t like Umbridge in the book, you will hate her in the movie. When she gets dragged off by the centaurs at the end, I still get giddy. It takes a lot of talent to not only have everyone hate your character, but to enjoy hating your character.

There was a lot of stuff left out of the movie. But it flows better and feels more like its paperback companion than Goblet of Fire. Yates did a great job and got the franchise back on track. A lot of people are critical of this movie, but in time I think it will be remembered as one of the best movies in the series.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)

Harry Potter’s fourth film translation got a new director: a very British and a very boring Mike Newell. This film has its moments but only because the book was filled with great moments. It was a step backwards for the franchise; it pales in comparison to what Alfonso Cuarón did with the third film.

Prior to filming, there was a lot of discussion into splitting the film into two parts because the book was so lengthy. Instead they decided to cut out most of the side plots and minor characters and focus primarily on Harry. By doing this, the film feels very rushed, and you get jerked around from place to place. It gives the movie an awkward flow. The Dursleys are noticeably absent from the beginning, instead we jump to Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys meeting up with Amos and Cedric “Twilight” Diggory and they all go to the Quidditch World Cup. They build up the excitement and introduce all the Quidditch players and then skip right over the game. You don’t see a second of actual Quidditch. I remember thinking that the projector must have made a mistake or they were missing a reel or something.

The whole movie goes on like that. They constantly cut over and skip significant things. And then they have the audacity to add characters like Nigel, and they even give Nigel lines! And they add whole scenes like the kids learning to dance. Why waste precious running time on stuff that isn’t even in the book? There is only one scene with Sirius Black. There is no Winky, Dobby, or Bagman.

Daniel Radcliffe is maturing more as an actor, but this film didn’t give him as much to work with as Prisoner of Azkaban. It is less character driven. Harry’s haircut is the worst out of all the films. It’s one of the worst movie haircuts of all time, up there with Tom Hanks in the DaVinci Code. Emma Watson stands out in the Yule Ball scene, and Rupert Grint’s best scenes were when he was fighting with Harry, and later making up.

The acting from everyone else was decent, Brendan Gleeson does a good job as Mad-Eye. Michael Gambon made a huge mistake as Dumbledore: he would never grab Harry violently like he did when he thought he submitted his name to the Goblet of Fire. David Tennant plays Barty Crouch, Jr. He added an annoying little tongue flick, something that Gleeson copied, and that shows that fake Moody and Crouch are the same person. It is a big “FUCK YOU” to the audience. Inserting Barty Crouch, Jr. into the opening scene with Voldemort and Pettigrew is another big “FUCK YOU.” Please Hollywood, treat us with some respect.

It is always good seeing Potter on the big screen. There are some really cool sequences in the movie. The first task with the dragon was really dynamic and action packed. It might be the best Harry vs. Magical Creature moment in all the films. It was good to see Moaning Myrtle again, creepy as she is. The second task underwater was eerie and memorable. The climax at the graveyard redeems the entire movie. First off they kill Twilight, and I love anyone who kills Twilight. And Voldemort comes back and gathers his army and him and Harry have a sweet light saber battle. I mean wizard duel. Yeah, that part was cool.

All in all the movie is entertaining and you have to see it if you’re watching the Harry Potter saga, so you can’t really avoid it. It just leaves a lot out, and maybe splitting it into two parts wasn’t such a terrible idea. They cut out a lot of important things, and some of the things they included didn’t need to be there. It was a step in the wrong direction for the movies. It might be some people’s favorite film, but some people eat glue sticks.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)

Alfonso Cuarón directs the third movie in the franchise, taking over for Chris Columbus. The movie is much darker from the get-go, the Warner Bros. logo and opening titles are dark and gray, and we know that the Potter films are only going to get better.

Harry, Ron and Hermione are no longer kids, now they are teenagers. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are much more natural on screen in this one. The first two movies they were performing, now they are acting. Believe me, there is a difference. They know their characters now, and this screenplay gives them more material to work with. This movie is more character driven than the first two.

The adult cast continued to improve as well. Gary Oldman joined the cast as Sirius Black, Emma Thompson plays Trelawney, Michael Gambon takes over as Dumbledore, Timothy Spall is great as Peter Pettigrew, and David Thewlis plays Lupin. Not enough can be said about Alan Rickman as Snape, he can always be relied on to kick ass with just a few lines. Snape has a great moment where he instinctively protects Harry, Ron and Hermione from werewolf Lupin, it is insight to his true self.

The first two movies were great for laying out the foundation, but now a more accomplished director is able to build up the franchise.  Cuarón makes the word feel more natural and lived in. The students are still in robes, but they are disheveled and more casually strewn together. The wands are now much more unique and individualized, and they remain so for the rest of the films.  Hogwarts seems explorable and livable. The camera is much more dynamic. It sweeps around, it follows characters, and it gets hit with snow and rain. It feels like another character. This movie was a make or break point for the franchise; a bad director could have ruined everything. Cuarón improved upon everything Columbus did. I don’t have the facts to back this up, but I feel this movie got more people to read the books than any of the other films.

I wasn’t a fan of the time traveling aspect in the book. I feel it is a cheap to have time travel in a saga about magic, and I think J.K. Rowling realized the same and so time travel was never a plot device after Prisoner of Azkaban. That being said, I really enjoyed the time traveling aspect in the movie. They did it right.  Throughout the movie Hermione pops up suddenly, and later Harry gets hit by a rock, Hermione sees something strange, they are saved by mysterious howling, and Harry sees what looks like his father casting a patronus charm. Then later, they go back in time and you find out how Hermione was popping up suddenly, they find out that they threw the rock, that Hermione almost saw herself, that they were the ones howling and that Harry saw himself cast the patronus. And he even goes so far as to explain that he knew he could cast it this time, because he had already done it before.

A great movie, easily one of the best in the series. It is no longer a kid’s movie. Alfonso Cuarón is a great director and this film is proof. It is a part of a greater whole, but he made it very personal and very unique without ruining anything previously established. It sets up some story arcs for future installments, but it also stands out as its own film.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (film)

Harry Potter was too much of phenomenon to stay on paper, and in 2001 the first book became a box office hit. Chris Columbus was chosen to direct, mostly because he was used to directing kids in films like Home Alone, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Harry Potter’s mostly British cast would use virtual unknown child actors and established film stars to play the adults.

It was really risky hiring Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. If he sucked the whole franchise would have fallen apart. He looks the part, and plays the part pretty well, but he is still just a kid in this and not much of an actor. He gets the job done though, and so you have to give credit to everyone who saw his potential. At the time the movie was made, there were only three books out and 4 more yet to be written. No one knew if they were going to keep the same cast or have to replace them if they got too old. Rupert Grint plays Ron Weasley and Emma Watson rounds out the trio as Hermione Granger. Rupert Grint is naturally fun and great sidekick to Harry, but Emma Watson is the best actor of the three in this one. She is the most natural on camera. Inspired casting with the Hogwarts staff, but Alan Rickman steals the show as Snape. He can do more with a sentence than most could do with a four-minute monolog.

This is a bright happy kid’s movie. The later films get darker as the books become more adult orientated. Columbus does a great job establishing the look and feel of the wizarding world. He sets up a great foundation and establishes the general tone and mood for the later installments. He brings J.K. Rowling’s vision to life, and it is truly magical at times. The first time I saw this movie was in Spanish class, and dios mios, it blew me away. Even though I had no idea what that little nino was saying to his amigos nuevos en la escuela de magica, I knew that I was seeing the start of a great new franchise. The computer graphics and special effects are a little under par. Neville’s flying sequence and the bathroom troll seem really cartoony. The Quidditch scenes were also very boring and not fast enough. The Quidditch scenes also showcase Daniel Radcliffe’s most wooden acting in the entire franchise. Maybe he should have been drinking back then to loosen up a little.

Overall the film stays very loyal to the book. Only a few things are changed or cut from the film, nothing too major. The flow of the film gets a little clunky at times, and the acting a little amateur, but it is entertaining and rewatchable. A great start to a great film franchise.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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